Do you have an ache or numbness in your buttocks or hip that refuses to budge? What could be causing this discomfort? You may have pain caused by your piriformis muscle.
Meet the piriformis muscles
The piriformis muscle is flat, tapered, and located deep within your buttock. It stretches from your tailbone, connects with the sacroiliac joint (SIJ), and passes through a passageway from your pelvis to your buttock and leg. At the end, the muscle attaches to the outer part of your upper thigh bone.
Function of the piriformis muscles
The piriformis muscle is instrumental in rotating your thigh bone (femur) when your hip is extended. When your hip is flexed, it pulls the femur away from your body. Both hip extension and hip flexion are crucial for maintaining balance and performing various daily activities that involve leg movement.
Understanding pain in this muscles
The muscle can become strained or irritated from factors such as: long periods of sitting and inactivity, overuse, injury, and repetitive activities involving your legs, such as long- distance walking, cycling or running.
The piriformis muscle can irritate or compress the sciatic nerve and cause pain, tingling, or even numbness in your buttocks and the back of your leg. You might also have reduced flexibility in your lower back and hips, affecting your posture and gait. Compensatory movements might also stress the knees and ankles, leading to potential discomfort.
Treatment and prevention
The goal is to eliminate symptoms and improve function. It’s important to reduce activities that trigger your symptoms: take breaks, move often and stretch regularly. Inflammation or spasm may be helped by heat or cold therapy.
From a chiropractic perspective, a sacroiliac joint problem is often seen with piriformis pain, usually on the same side. There are two SIJs, just as there are two piriformis muscles. As your pelvis and these muscles are connected, treating both makes clinical sense where appropriate.
As well as chiropractic care, treatment and prevention of piriformis pain may involve stretching and strengthening these muscles. Exercises will depend on what you can comfortably perform, a stretch shouldn’t be painful.
The following is a seated piriformis stretch. There are different versions, including those that ‘turn you into a pretzel’, but that’s not necessary!
Speak to us about suitable exercises for your body. The piriformis muscles have a big impact on our daily lives, by understanding their function and giving them a little extra care we can embrace a life of pain-free mobility!
Have you thought about getting a massage, but unsure what this involves or what to expect? Many people love massage, experiencing benefits for their body and mind. Plus, the correct technique can complement chiropractic care. Let’s take a look at this approach to see if it suits you.
What does massage involve?
The exact technique depends on the type of massage. However, as a broad overview, it manipulates the body’s soft tissues − the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. A trained therapist should provide your massage and customise treatment to suit your needs. Specific areas can be addressed, for example, your back, shoulders, legs, or just your head. Particular health conditions should be taken into account.
What are the benefits of massage?
From reducing pain and improving function, to aiding faster recovery, the advantages of massage are diverse. Enhanced flexibility and reduced muscle soreness after exercise are notable outcomes, alongside heightened blood circulation to muscles and skin. Moreover, psychological benefits are also possible. By enhancing parasympathetic activity, massage can lead to elevated relaxation and alertness, activating the 'relaxation response.'
What do the studies say?
A 2020 review study published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychology noted that massage can help "migraines, depression, asthma, low birth weight infants, general pain reduction, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, stress reduction, and overall increase in well-being and immune functioning."
Recent research continues to support and uncover the benefits of massage. In older adults, it has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, relieve muscle pain after exercise, and decrease balance problems and associated fear of falling.
Similarly, during pregnancy, massage appears to reduce stress, lessen back and leg pain, lower levels of depression and anxiety, and boost neurotransmitters ("nerve messengers"), serotonin and dopamine, essential for mood enhancement and pleasure.
As research continually uncovers the wide-ranging benefits of massage it reinforces the significance of this ancient practice for overall health and well-being. Ask use if a massage is right for you - we're happy to help!
Enjoy this tasty and healthy sauce at your next barbecue!
2 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted 2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 1⁄2 cups pear or apple juice
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
1 pinch red chili flakes
A delicious, seasonal stone fruit, cherries are tasty and well-loved. But are they actually good for you too? Yes! These shiny little mouthfuls are jam-packed with nutrients, making them a healthy addition to your diet, as well as a delicious one.
Cherries are a great source of:
Tart cherries have some interesting properties; it’s claimed they can improve the symptoms of conditions like arthritis and gout, help your immunity, improve sleep quality, and may even have some ability to protect brain function and reduce the risk or severity of dementia and related conditions.
Cherries are versatile too; they can be used in pies and smoothies, chopped up in fruit salads, on cheese platters, and just eaten fresh as a tasty treat. If you’re giving cherries to small children, remove the stones and chop cherries in half first. Small, round and firm cherries are a potential choking hazard for the little ones.
Cherries are also a sweet treat, which can help stop you reaching for empty-calorie snacks – replacing one unhealthy food in your diet with a healthy equivalent is a great step towards reaching and maintaining a healthy weight as well as promoting all- round health.
Are your muscles tight or tender? Do they feel like taut bands or knotted ropes? When we exercise, our muscles can become tender, creating soreness which can be uncomfortable. Yet, nature may offer some help - certain foods show promise for relaxing tightness and easing discomfort.
The mineral magnesium is known in natural health circles as “the great relaxer.” It’s involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body, including muscle and nerve function. Muscles need to contract and relax properly to function well. Magnesium supports the energy production required to do so.
Tart cherries are also a good source of magnesium. However, it’s their powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are of more interest. A few years ago, tart cherries made headlines as an athletic aid. Additionally, they may reduce loss of muscle strength, soreness, and help speed up recovery. Tart cherry juice is the best source, and should be consumed for several days before and after exercise.
Can’t find tart cherries? Beetroot juice is also studied for its potential in the athletic world. It contains dietary nitrates which show potential in boosting athletic performance by increasing blood flow and oxygen to muscles. Beetroot also contains betalains, (pigments that provide its vibrant colour), which may reduce inflammation, aid recovery, and ease muscle tenderness.
Watermelon juice is an alternative if beetroot isn’t to your taste. As well as antioxidants, it contains l-citrulline, an amino acid which may help increase exercise endurance by aiding muscle function. Drinking watermelon juice before and after exercise may reduce muscle soreness. That’s therapy with a delicious flavour!
Turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, have been used medicinally for millennia. It has been shown to soothe inflammation and ease pain. Curcumin may reduce the discomfort and muscle injury that can result from exercise. To enhance curcumin’s benefits, add black pepper to your dishes. Look for the additional ingredient, piperine, if using supplements.
Whether you exercise or not, these natural remedies might be worth a trial. They’re safe and tasty and may benefit your muscles and your general wellbeing. If you’d like advice on diet and exercise, we’re happy to help.
Remember, while health supplements and specialised foods can offer benefits, it's important to exercise caution and moderation. Follow the recommended guidelines on supplements and be aware of any potential side effects. It’s best to follow a well-rounded and balanced diet for optimal overall health.
Do you have questions about chiropractic care? Many people do, and we love sharing insight into this wonderful profession. With that in mind, let’s dive into some of the more common questions.
Could adjustments make my spine loose? Can bones be moved too much?
In short, no! Your spine is an incredible structure. The shape of your vertebrae keeps them connected, like floorboards that “click” together; they’re designed to stay put. Ligaments act like ropes that tie your bones together and muscles and fascia also provide strength. A chiropractic adjustment is a skillfully and carefully placed impulse that creates a slight movement within your body’s normal limits to help restore normal motion and function to the joint.
What is the popping sound- is it bad for my joints?
You might hear a popping sound when you have an adjustment; this is caused by a small pocket of gas being released from the joint. This safe sound is common; however, its presence or absence doesn’t determine the effectiveness of your care.
Should I expect pain relief in the first few treatments - how long will I need chiropractic care?
What great questions! We’re all different; so this will depend on your health and how long you’ve had problems. Different parts of your body repair at different speeds, and certain lifestyle factors, such as poor diet and smoking, can slow healing. Making healthy lifestyle changes can speed up the healing process.
Some people only want pain relief; this may or may not happen in the first few treatments and is not always a sign of progress. Others wish to improve and maintain their health long term, so these factors can also determine how long you choose to receive chiropractic care.
Why do we use X-rays and other imaging technologies?
While we are thorough in our assessments, we cannot see some things. A lot can hide under your skin and in your joints. X-rays and other scans help us know what’s happening inside your body and rule out what’s not. This assists us in providing better care. The type of scan determines what we can detect. For example, an x-ray is good at seeing bones.
What qualifications does a chiropractor have?
In Australia, chiropractors are some of the most qualified health professionals. We complete at least five years of university study. We must register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. This government organisation has strict requirements and only qualified chiropractors gain registration.
Of course, there are many more questions. Please let us know if you have one buzzing around in your head. We’re happy to help!
Truck driving is a physically demanding occupation that can take a toll on the body. Prolonged sitting, whole-body vibration, and heavy lifting can put truck drivers at a higher risk for long-term back conditions. Poor diet and lack of exercise, which can be challenging to control in this line of work, further contribute to these issues.
A 2022 study published in the journal BMC Public Health revealed that truck drivers are more prone to obesity, high blood pressure, mental health problems, and musculoskeletal disorders, including back pain. In fact, over one-third of truck drivers report experiencing back pain. Long-haul truck drivers are particularly susceptible to back pain that lasts for more than a year.
To address these challenges, effective interventions that focus on prevention and management are necessary. As chiropractors, we conduct thorough assessments of your spine in order find the solutions best for your body. Additionally, we can offer valuable advice on diet, posture, spinal support, and exercise.
Weight management and diet
Weight management is crucial for many truck drivers; being overweight increases the likelihood of chronic lower back pain. Dietary modifications can support healthy weight loss and help alleviate back pain. We can discuss strategies to improve food choices, especially if you’re covering long distances where options may be limited.
Processed meat, high saturated fat and refined carbohydrates (all of which can be in a meat pie!), sugary foods, and a low intake of fruits and vegetables are linked to increased inflammation, which can trigger discomfort. A poor diet can result in a deficiency of essential nutrients and lead to many health problems. Supplementing with micronutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium, for example, may provide relief.
Posture and exercise
Proper posture is essential, particularly when sitting for extended periods. Support the natural curves of your spine, ensuring your eyes face forward, keeping shoulders relaxed, and maintain straight wrists. Furthermore, the elbows, knees, and ankles should rest at 90 degrees. The use of supportive aids can help posture, depending on the truck seat.
Improving core strength, which refers to the strength of the abdominal muscles, can also alleviate back pain. These muscles play a vital role in maintaining balance, stability, and posture – as well as facilitating various movements such as bending, twisting, and walking. We can incorporate exercises that target these muscles, to help strengthen your core.
If you’re a truck driver experiencing back pain, reach out to us. There are numerous approaches, including chiropractic care, which may help reduce discomfort and improve your overall function.
Backbends involve arching your spine backward, creating a deep extension and opening in the front of your body. They’re called "backbends" because they primarily focus on bending your spine in the opposite direction of its natural curves. With this in mind we discuss the benefits and dangers of strong back bends.
So, are backbends of any benefit?
Backbends can increase flexibility by stretching the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the front of your body, and also improve strength, function, and posture. We spend so much time sitting and hunched forward, bending backwards reverses this position.
There may be other benefits too. In yoga practice it’s believed that poses that open up your body may increase self-confidence, positive emotion, and energy.
Are back bends safe to do?
Backbends involve moving your spine in ways that may be unfamiliar. To perform them safely requires awareness, caution, and proper technique. If you rush ahead without preparation and conditioning, you could damage your back, especially if you have existing spinal issues.
Also, backbends may not be suitable for everyone due to differences in body structure, or existing health conditions. Additionally, not being fit, strong or flexible can increase the potential risk of injury associated with deep backbends.
Guidance for safe stretching
With that being said, let’s look at some guidance to lower your risk of injuries when doing back bends of any degree.
Before you begin, warm up your body with gentle stretches and movements. Ensure your core muscles are engaged and start with slight backward bends. Listen to your body; if you’re ready you can slowly, cautiously work up to a deeper stretch. Use counter-postures like forward bends or gentle twists to balance your practice.
Keep in mind that advanced backbend postures are not necessary, you can stick with slight, gentle backward stretches. If you experience any pain or strain in your back, stop. Never force your body beyond its limits.
In summary: backbends can be safe and helpful for some people, however it’s important to seek advice before beginning. We can help determine if backbends are suitable for you, what intensity of stretch is best for your body, and advise you on correct technique.
You have a unique muscle called the multifidus muscle, which plays an important role in the well-being of your spine. Despite its importance, most people are unfamiliar with this remarkable muscle. Taking the time to learn what its role is in your body and how to strengthen it, may improve your overall function, stability, and even ease pain.
This unsung muscle hero works tirelessly to stabilise and protect your spine, while also helping in extending and rotating your back. It holds your backbone firmly and provides strength as you bend and move. By doing so, it effectively reduces pressure on your spinal discs and minimises the risk of injury.
The multifidus muscle is long and thin, consisting of many muscle bundles. Each bundle spans only a few vertebrae, but together, they connect and support most of your spine. Nestled deeply against your backbone, this muscle extends from your pelvis and tailbone to your lower back, mid- back, and neck. Due to its role, a weak multifidus can disrupt vertebral stability, particularly in your lower back.
Within your lumbar spine lies a neutral zone, which represents the range of motion that can be achieved easily from a relaxed position with minimal muscular effort. Remaining within this neutral zone requires less energy and places less stress on your spine, resulting in improved functionality, reduced pain, and decreased disability. Just like perfectly aligned car tyres require less effort to move, the same principle applies to your spine.
The multifidus muscle works its magic by stabilising your spine without conscious effort, contracting and relaxing as needed. However, injury or weakness can occur, making it harder to maintain a safe and neutral zone. As a result, your spine may begin to subtly ‘wobble’ more than usual, needing additional effort to secure it. This places increased pressure on the surrounding tissues, potentially leading to damage and dysfunction; especially if you’ve undergone back surgery. In fact, damage to this muscle is associated with a condition known as failed back surgery syndrome.
Fortunately, you can strengthen the multifidus through regular exercise. One example is "The Superman". To perform this exercise, lie on your stomach on the floor. Extend your arms over your head while keeping your legs straight. Maintain a neutral head position by imagining you’re keeping a ball between your chin and chest. Gently contract your abdominal muscles, and slowly lift your arms and legs off the floor until you feel your lower back engage. Hold this position for two to three seconds, and then repeat ten times, twice. Stop if you feel pain.
It’s important to note that the multifidus muscle is not the only muscle that supports your spine and there are a number of strengthening exercises. Talk to your chiropractor first, we can provide advice on customised exercise to ensure optimal results and prevent potential complications. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
Farinata (or socca) is a type of pancake made from chickpea flour which originated in Italy. Fermenting the batter makes it light and creamy and helps increase the nutritional value of the chickpea flour. These can be served as a snack or side dish, or add toppings to make a light meal.
Makes 2 large ‘pancakes.’
1 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice 300ml water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive or coconut oil (melted)
Seasonings: fresh or dried herbs, pepper, a sprinkling of grated parmesan.
Toppings: Can include any combination of pesto, cheese, olives or vegetables such as zucchini, tomato, peppers.
Adam's Back is a team of dedicated complimentary health professionals. Our aim is to support you in finding drug-free solutions for better health.